Author Topic: Trench Art from WWI  (Read 1259 times)

Father Bruno

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Trench Art from WWI
« on: January 02, 2016, 03:07:47 PM »
I thought maybe the folks here at HAF could help me decipher a piece of trench art I have in my possession. This particular piece belongs to my Grandfather, and he gave it to me just before he passed away. He was given the piece after WWII as a thank you for his service during the war producing munitions at the Revere Copper and Brass works in Detroit where he was a supervisor and chemist.

First however; I thought I would share a couple other items I have in my possession that I thought may be of some interest.
First are a couple of Minie Balls my father found at the Gettysburg Battlefield site. He went there in the late 40's to visit an army buddy of his from the war. My father was a promising baseball player, and like many from his generation WWII cut his baseball career short. So after serving in the European theatre he returned home and went back to playing baseball. He was eventually signed on by the Chicago White Sox to play with their minor league team, but soon after suffered a career ending injury.
He was so devastated by this that he took some time off and traveled around the country to "Collect his Wits" as he would later say. One of his stops was to visit his buddy from the war that lived in Gettysburg. My father loved history, and said he and his buddy would spend many hours talking about the civil war to distract them while fighting their way into Germany.
On a tour of the battlefield he came across these two balls just north of the positions at Cemetery ridge. (My great, great grandfather on my mother's side was actually wounded at Gettysburg while fighting for the North)


This next item is one of my all time favorite possessions and should be easily identifiable to some of our British members. It's a Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) CAL. 303 Rifle No. 1 Mark III.

This particular rifle is stamped with the date 1916, which means it's officially 100 years old...it still fires and is quite accurate. Some of the things I love about this particular piece is that it is in excellent condition, and although it has some normal wear still has all of it's original pieces, in fact one of the remarkable thing about this particular rifle is all of the serial numbers on it match, so it has not been pieced together from different weapons. It has the British Proof and Inspection Marks on the receiver indicating it passed government proof testing, as well as quality controls.



It's an amazing piece to hold and fire, and marvel at the history it represents. When you think of the impact it had during the first world war and all of the thousands, and thousands of troops that carried this exact rifle into battle (About 9lbs/4kgs unloaded)

I'm trying to find both an original strap and bayonet for it, but have been unlucky so far (I purchased the rifle down in TN in 1998)






So back to the item in question. This is an Imperial German 77mm field artillery casing manufactured in 1917 by Patronenfabrik Karlsruhe. You can see the firing marks on the bottom, and it has a crack that runs up along the sides which I'm not sure is from the initial firing or simply from age.


It has been etched completely around, but I've split it up into thirds.

First portion is dated 1918 at the top along with a cross, below that is a bi-plane, and below the plant a building which I have always thought was a hospital where the soldier who etched this was recovering, though it's possible it is a school or even his home I'm not sure.


Second portion is dated 1919 at the top, and just below that is an eagle, along with another eagle a bit lower down with what appears to be a crest.  Below that are a couple trees jutting out of a small hill, along with a small park bench and a locomotive engine in the background. I've always thought this was a small park or section outside of the hospital from the previous section where perhaps the soldiers would sit during their recovery, or perhaps it could be a park from his hometown, but I'm not sure. There is also just to the right of this a women walking (2nd picture below) I thought perhaps she was a nurse from the hospital, or even his mother as the style of dress is somewhat matronly, but maybe she is the soldiers wife or girlfriend?





This is the third portion, and it also is dated 1919 at the top. Below that is an etching of an Imperial German helmet, and then the German Cross, and below those items is etched the following:

PARMS



It is this section that I have been puzzled by, as I have not been able to figure out what PARMS stands for. Not sure if it is an acronym for something, or if it stands for the soldier unit or maybe it references the hospital where he recovered?
I’ve spent hours online researching with no luck.

So if anyone here has any ideas on what the PARMS might possibly represent or mean (Or have any ideas/thoughts on what the other sections represent) or even suggest a group or person whom I could contact I would deeply appreciate it.

Sorry for the glare on the photos, taking a picture of a shiny piece of brass is for me impossible to do without producing the glare.
“Our Father who art in nature, who has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and overwhelming love for no-goods and blots-on-the-town and bums, and Mack and the boys. Virtues and graces and laziness and zest. Our Father who art in nature.”
― John Steinbeck

Claireliontamer

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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2016, 03:14:01 PM »
Could PARMS be the name of someone?  I know someone who has the surname Parms.

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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2016, 04:20:08 PM »
Are you sure it is an M? Looks a lot like an N in the picture. Or maybe I'm having a stroke...  :???:


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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2016, 06:04:02 PM »
Is the casing brass or steel? I can't tell from the picture. Also, that's a fine looking Enfield. I have a No. 4 Mk. I that I inherited from my father. It's in much poorer condition than yours though. If you can find .303 cartridges they make fine shooters and a decent deer rifle so long as you can effectively fire with open sights. I'm not a big fan of that rifle with a scope.
 

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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2016, 06:07:08 PM »
Could PARMS be the name of someone?  I know someone who has the surname Parms.

See I never even consider that, great thought Claire...I've never heard that surname before either, in fact according to one website I looked at Parms is very uncommon here in the US, in fact recent data shows there are only 176 people with the last name Parms living in the US.

It appears to be an English surname, with earliest records I have found so far listing an origin from Yorkshire from a "Manfred Palmes" living in the reign of Stephan. (But apparently this surname is not very common in England either)

Very interesting, thanks again Claire I shall see if records exist for a Parms serving in the war, either from the US or England, but also now it makes more sense that it is a surname and not an organizational name and why I couldn't come up with anything.

I wonder though, as I always assumed that artist/soldier was German because of the German cross, and the two eagles. Was he in fact English or American? Possibly a German named Parms?

Hmmm...?


Are you sure it is an M? Looks a lot like an N in the picture. Or maybe I'm having a stroke...  :???:

I have wondered the same thing as well in the past, however. When viewed under a magnifying glass the first upstroke of the M is easily distinguished from the down stroke, the artist simply had issue when engraving allowing the two strokes to run next to each other. Plus if it was an N it would be upside down.
So no worries I think you're safe from a stroke:)
“Our Father who art in nature, who has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and overwhelming love for no-goods and blots-on-the-town and bums, and Mack and the boys. Virtues and graces and laziness and zest. Our Father who art in nature.”
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Father Bruno

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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2016, 06:22:12 PM »
Is the casing brass or steel? I can't tell from the picture. Also, that's a fine looking Enfield. I have a No. 4 Mk. I that I inherited from my father. It's in much poorer condition than yours though. If you can find .303 cartridges they make fine shooters and a decent deer rifle so long as you can effectively fire with open sights. I'm not a big fan of that rifle with a scope.

Casing is brass.

Thanks, it is in fine shape, and fires well. I only shoot if for fun, and it's quite accurate from prone position, but like you I wouldn't want to put a scope on it.

Not sure I would fair well trying to hit a deer with the open sites, plus the weight of it is long if you know what I mean. I have a hard time keeping it steady from a standing position...but I've got about 200-300 rounds for it (I have 2 maybe 3 belts like this of ammo) , take it out once or twice a year and fire it.
 
Both my son and son-in law really enjoy firing it.



“Our Father who art in nature, who has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and overwhelming love for no-goods and blots-on-the-town and bums, and Mack and the boys. Virtues and graces and laziness and zest. Our Father who art in nature.”
― John Steinbeck

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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2016, 06:42:11 PM »
No idea about the engraving. Maybe an artillery regiment if the soldier was English? P-Artillery-Regiment-M-S? Not even sure if there were artillery regiments during the first world war but it could be some sort of unit insignia. I asked about the casting because it looked more like steel with a well developed patina than brass in the photo. That would've explained the crack too.

One thing to keep in mind with your Enfield is that if the cartridges you have are surplus they very likely use cordite as a propellant which is highly corrosive. The Enfield was a popular crop damage rifle in these parts and cordite can almost erase the rifling if the bore isn't scrubbed very thoroughly after firing. I know you were in the army but that's something easily overlooked if you haven't seen it before.
 

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Claireliontamer

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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2016, 03:04:15 AM »
Could PARMS be the name of someone?  I know someone who has the surname Parms.

See I never even consider that, great thought Claire...I've never heard that surname before either, in fact according to one website I looked at Parms is very uncommon here in the US, in fact recent data shows there are only 176 people with the last name Parms living in the US.

It appears to be an English surname, with earliest records I have found so far listing an origin from Yorkshire from a "Manfred Palmes" living in the reign of Stephan. (But apparently this surname is not very common in England either)

Very interesting, thanks again Claire I shall see if records exist for a Parms serving in the war, either from the US or England, but also now it makes more sense that it is a surname and not an organizational name and why I couldn't come up with anything.

I wonder though, as I always assumed that artist/soldier was German because of the German cross, and the two eagles. Was he in fact English or American? Possibly a German named Parms?

Hmmm...?


The person I knew was a student I taught back in Yorkshire.  Sadly not still in touch with him otherwise I'd ask him if he knew anyone who served in WWI. 

A quick search did bring up this http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?uidh=000&rank=1&new=1&msT=1&gsln=Parms&MSAV=1&cp=0&cpxt=0&catBucket=rstp&sbo=t&gsbco=Sweden&noredir=true&gss=angs-c&gl=39&gst=&ghc=20&fh=40&fsk=BEFq368IgAAZUgD-47-SPA-61-

It seems there were Americans called Parms who were drafted in WWI.  Can't find anyone from the detroit region though. 

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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2016, 03:35:06 AM »
Those bullets look like pistol ammo - I've never seen a Minié ball before!

I have fired many hundreds of rounds through the old SMLE, including the WW1 models once or twice.  A good example is indeed pretty accurate and is still used for long-range target shooting.  However that bandolier is original equipment and so the propellant will indeed be cordite, so you'll have all the business of swabbing out the bore each time you fire it.

Neither PARMS or PARNS sounds like a German word or name, even less an English one; I'd guess it's an acronym.

What a wonderful set of militaria.

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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2016, 07:10:39 AM »
I've started a shout out on facebook so we might get some feedback from that.
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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2016, 09:58:25 AM »
Thanks for the heads up on the cordite JJ, I wasn't aware of that. However, I alway's clean it up well right after firing, and keep it well oiled because of it's age. Next time I go to my ammo guy I'm going to ask him about it. Maybe purchase some non-corrosive rounds and give these rounds to a buddy of mine.

Thanks for the follow up Claire, I'll look at your link closer later this evening.


So what do you folks think of the engraving, does it appear to be something based on the designs an American or English soldier would do or more of a German?
“Our Father who art in nature, who has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and overwhelming love for no-goods and blots-on-the-town and bums, and Mack and the boys. Virtues and graces and laziness and zest. Our Father who art in nature.”
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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2016, 11:01:32 AM »
German it is full of Prussian iconography. The bird, the pickelhaube, the style of building, the traditional dress, and the train are all symbols that can be identified with that area.
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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2016, 02:09:24 PM »
A friend suggested the following "Den's suggestion is that it is likely to commemorate a local artillary regiment so you could search German artillary battalions of the first world war"
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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2016, 04:38:46 PM »
I wish I could help, but I know close to nil on WW1. This is an interesting thread, though.
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Re: Trench Art from WWI
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2016, 05:48:08 PM »
I had a friend of my brother look at it and he says that the S is actually an ampersand and that it might be an abbreviation of the manufacturer.
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